Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad today charged the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar with having "splurged" money on preparations for a two-day power ministers' conference which was to begin from today but was cancelled yesterday. The conference was to be held at Rajgir in Nalanda district.
"Money was splurged by the state government on the two-day event which was to begin today. We have learnt that about Rs 60 crore was spent on elaborate preparations as the Nitish government was viewing the conference as an opportunity to get publicity", Prasad alleged at a press conference here.
He further said that free LED bulbs were distributed in many villages of Nalanda district and power sub-stations were given a facelift so that the government could boast about its achievements in the power sector.
"A Bollywood singer along with his troupe, was hired to entertain the visitors. We wish to know why, after so much of buzz, the event just fizzled out," the RJD leader said.
"Just a two-line communication came from Delhi yesterday that the conference was being called off because of unavoidable circumstances. Many visitors must have reached Bihar by then. The Bollywood singer, we have learnt, too had reached Patna and he is bound to charge the Rs 60 lakh he was reportedly promised," Prasad alleged.
Asked whether he thought that the conference could have been cancelled at the instance of the Centre, Prasad said, "While Union Minister of State R K Singh was supposed to take part in the event, a majority of delegates were drawn from states across the country. What about the loss of face before all of them?"
"The state government owes an answer to the people as to why a function, on the preparation for which it had spent so much of money, was cancelled so unceremoniously," he said.
Reacting to the RJD leader's allegations, state power minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav said, "The claim of Rs 60 crore having been spent on preparations is laughable."
"Are there any five-star hotels in Rajgir? What does the state government spend on, besides lodging of delegates from other states, their conveyance and may be one or two lunches or dinners," the power minister, who is also a senior leader of the ruling JD(U) in the state, said.
"Moreover, the expenditure is not borne entirely by the state government. Centre's delegates who take part in such conferences foot their own bill," Yadav said.
The minister said power is a core sector and the Centre and the states need to work in collaboration in the field of energy. That is why such conferences do keep taking place, twice a year, in various parts of the country. "Objection to holding such a conference in Bihar is ridiculous," he said.